Starting his career in the workshop, it wasn’t long before former diesel mechanic Tom Bromley, 28, made the switch to being behind the wheel.
Based in Violet Town in north-eastern Victoria, Bromley began learning his trade at 17, when he was fresh out of high school.
“I always had a great interest in trucks. While I was still at school, I was greasing trucks on the weekend and driving stuff around the yard for Brian at Brian Kearney Transport. He was good mates with the guy I did my apprenticeship with,” explained Bromley.
After completing his apprenticeship, he went out on his own for about 12 months. “I was doing onsite stuff and breakdowns. Most of my work was still for Brian and then he offered me a job driving and I thought, I wouldn’t mind doing that and getting to travel around and see some places too.”
That was five years ago. And with that, his driving career was born. At first, he did the Albury to Melbourne run each day, and eventually it expanded further afield, with trips into Sydney and Brisbane too.
Close to three years ago he was offered a job from Rick Button at Comspread Engineering in Violet Town. As well as manufacturing customised bulk spreaders for the farming industry, the company also has a transport division specialising in bulk transport.
The fleet is made up of six Kenworths, with a Volvo due to be added to the mix in December.
Bromley is lucky enough to be behind the wheel of an impressive new Kenworth Legend SAR, which joined the Comspread family just a few months ago. “I started in a K200, then a T659 and now I’ve got this new truck and I love it – it’s a very good bit of gear. All our trucks are set up very similar, with Ice Packs, fridges, tellies, microwaves and that sort of stuff,” he said.
The only downside of the new truck is that Bromley’s beloved pooch Turbo, a red heeler, isn’t allowed in the new truck! “It’s also very hard to find pubs that will let you have a dog in the smoker’s area, let alone cook a steak for him, but luckily the Roma Pub and Royal Hotel in Mount Hope do,” said Bromley.
Behind the Legend, you’ll find an AB-triple set of tippers. They’re used to transport stock feed, predominantly from Mildura, Victoria and Renmark, SA, and into various parts of Queensland, particularly Goondiwindi. “We used to go to Roma often but not so much anymore. And I carry cotton seed on the way back and into SA,” Bromley added.
Occasionally his wife Chenille, who also has an MC licence, joins him in the truck too, when she has some time off.
When Bromley chatted with Big Rigs, he was in Tintinara, a town in the Murray and Mallee region of SA, unloading cotton seed.
“The stuff I do now is mainly into Queensland – I’m not a big fan of driving around Victoria. I enjoy this sort of work more because you just get to drive, without having to stop and start all the time. I get to see more of the countryside too and go to places people don’t really get to visit. It’s nice out where we go up through Cobar and Bourke, and there’s not a lot of traffic. In Bourke, I like to stop at Morrall’s Bakery.”
Though he loves being on the road, he says being away from home is still tough – especially with his first baby due any day as this edition of Big Rigs hits the shelves.
“My partner and I have our first baby due in late November/early December. I’m heading home tomorrow and will take some time off for the next couple of weeks.
“But having a boss like Rick Button has been fantastic. He’s made sure I’ve been back at home for every major scan we’ve had to go to. I imagine me being away has been even harder for her, but that’s how it is with this sort of job.”
‘Truckin’ in the Outback’ is proudly supported by Loadshift, Australia’s largest freight marketplace for individuals and businesses seeking to buy and sell road transport services.